Ironton rallies to down South Point in opener

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

The force was with them.

Whatever the gravitational pull was, it was just what the Ironton Lady Fighting Tigers needed as they came together and slipped past the South Point Lady Pointers 70-65 Monday.

Ironton lost starting guard Kayla Wileman to a knee injury with 3:40 left in the first quarter and struggled with foul trouble in the first half.

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But the Lady Tigers were able to pull away late in the season opener for both teams.

“The girls really stepped up and pulled together,” said Ironton coach Doug Graham. “It was a great team effort. Everyone did their part.

“Losing Kayla hurt us with handling the ball and defensively.”

Jessica Waddle did her part with 29 points including 19 in the second half. Mercedes “Benz” Crockrel had 23 points and 11 rebounds while Michelle Pancake pulled down 8 rebounds and Brea Tackett came off the bench to replace Wileman and scored 9 points.

Kayla Fletcher had 21 points to pace South Point. T’Ann Mayo and Tinesha Taylor added 10 points each while Jalynn Bradburn had 10 rebounds, 6 on the offensive end.

“South Point is an athletic team. We wanted to change our defense against them but we were in so much foul trouble the first half,” said Graham.

Ironton was up 13-5 in the first quarter after a 3-pointer by Tackett. Bradburn’s putback cut the deficit to 15-9.

The Lady Fighting Tigers had a couple of 11-point leads in the second quarter, but South Point converted 11 of 20 free throws and Fletcher hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game 34-34 at the break.

The lead exchange hands five times in the third quarter . Mayo hit a 3-pointer and Fletcher banked in a 15-footer from the foul line that gave South Point a 52-49 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Two foul shots by Tackett and a layup by Crockrel with 4:29 left put Ironton ahead 59-58.

Taylor tied the game with a foul shot only to have Waddle drain back-to-back 15-footers and Ironton had the lead for good at 63-59 with 3:28 to go.

Ironton converted 7 of 11 free throws over the final 2:50 to secure the win.